First, my personal thanks for all those who agreed to help with this survey, which is designed to offer us a better resolution of the distribution and regional abundance of deer within the UK, something we urgently need if we are to advise Government and other Agencies on future management.
Although we had hoped that volunteers would undertake their initial field surveys this spring, response to the recent outbreak of Coronavirus and Government guidance suggests that we must postpone this, because of restrictions on movement and non-essential travel.
We hope that circumstances will allow us to start the survey instead, with the autumn walks proposed and roll spring surveys through to the spring of next year 2021.
If you have volunteered to help with the survey, please keep in touch with our technical adviser Charles Smith-Jones and we will hope to contact you again in late summer. In the meantime stay safe at this challenging time
Rory Putman, Chairman, British Deer Society
There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether deerstalking is an acceptable activity in the current situation. The government has given clear instructions that people must stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel.
It is the opinion of the BDS that recreational stalking, and its associated travel implications, are not essential and should therefore not take place at the current time.
Professional Stalkers should seek the advice of their employers, line managers or landowners.
We are aware that a number of organisations including SNH, FE and FLS have ceased all culling operations as of today.
The situation remains under constant review and further guidance will be given as appropriate.
To review the latest recommendations and restrictions issued by the UK Government regarding Coronavirus/Covid-19 visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
It was impossible just a few weeks ago to have imagined the extraordinary times we are now in. As a charity and as a company, we are taking each day as it comes whilst also making the best decisions we can to prioritise the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, public and our business.
Fordingbridge staff will be working primarily from home with minimal office presence only for essential tasks. We have cancelled all BDS training courses until the end of July and are offering all booked candidates the opportunity to be transferred to events later this year.
Although we have not yet taken the initiative of withdrawing from Shows, it seems likely that most such events during the coming year, whether national or local, will be cancelled in the light of unfolding government advice. We will, therefore, take the opportunity to review all commitments and be better focused and resourced for the future.
All Society social events, national and local, have been cancelled until further notice, please keep watching the website or email your local branch chairman with any queries.
PHE researcher Maya Holding explains:
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) was detected in the UK for the first time in 2019. Many BDS members had a vital role in this discovery through their participation in our 2018-19 deer serosurveillance study investigating the presence of tick-borne viruses in the UK which resulted in this finding. We really appreciate all of the help from those who have previously taken part in the study and all of the members who are currently participating in the subsequent follow-up study.
These samples allow Public Health England (PHE) to conduct research to increase understanding of the prevalence and distribution of TBEV in the areas where we have currently detected the virus and to continue to monitor for any potentially emerging areas elsewhere in the UK.
Following the decision to take deer management work in house from April 2020, the Forestry Commission has appointed Alastair Boston, Jamie Cordery and David Hooton to the Deer Officer posts.
All three already have excellent stakeholder relationships and networks across the deer community, a strong understanding of the issues within their areas plus a wealth of experience. David Jam, currently Executive Director of the Deer Initiative, has been appointed to the post of Deer Advisor to provide national oversight to the deer management work plus the development of policy, regulations and incentives.
They will all work in co-operation with Forestry England, Natural England and key DI partners to enable collaborative, landscape scale deer management that will make a real difference in reducing the negative impact of deer on woodlands.
The Trustee Directors [the Board] of the British Deer Society and its Scottish Area Council commend the Deer Working Group on their detailed report which is in the main well-presented and attempts a proper and comprehensive review of the published literature relevant to each of the topics considered.
However, there are a number of areas where individual recommendations or the justifications used in support are of some concern or may have unforeseen implications and we would wish to draw the attention of the Cabinet Secretary and the wider committee on Environment, Climate Change and Land reform to these particular points in the accompanying commentary.
We have received a great response to this year's new survey of deer abundance, however, we still need more volunteers. As previously reported, this will be our most comprehensive deer survey ever taken and to ensure success we need as many people as possible to get involved!
All that we ask is that you record your visits to a survey area within an allocated 1km square during March/April and August/September making a note of deer signs that you find. More details can be found here
If you are able to volunteer and assist with this exciting and ambitious project please email Charles Smith-Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact HQ BDS, giving your name, contact details and postcode plus if you are a member please include your membership number. We aim to make survey locations as convenient as possible to your home. However, if you would prefer to survey somewhere else that you visit frequently, please let us know.
Many of our Spring 2020 courses are now fully booked, but we still have a few places available on the following upcoming courses.